Watchdog: Social Security acting head hasn’t been authorized to serve for months
The acting head of the Social Security Administration (SSA) has been prohibited by law from serving in her position for months, a government watchdog informed the White House this week.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) sent a letter to President Trump this week saying that Nancy Berryhill is in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which generally bars acting agency chiefs from serving in the post for more than 210 days.
Berryhill was appointed to her position on Jan. 23, 2017, days after Trump entered office.
“Specifically, we are reporting that the service of Nancy A. Berryhill as Acting Commissioner at SSA after November 17, 2017, is in violation of the Act,” GAO general counsel Thomas Armstrong wrote to the White House.
“We have previously determined that using the acting title of a position during the period in which the position should be vacant violates the time limitations in the Vacancies Reform Act,” the letter continued. “Therefore Ms. Berryhill was not authorized to continue serving using the title of Acting Commissioner after November 16.”
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), who chairs the Social Security subpanel of the House Ways and Means Committee, issued a statement this week calling on the Trump administration to nominate a permanent head for the SSA.
“Americas want, need, and deserve the SSA to provide the service they expect and count on – and that requires the authority and consistency of a Senate-confirmed Commissioner who can lead the way,” Johnson said.
“I look forward to discussing the critical importance of this role for the millions of people who receive Social Security – today and in the future.”
The Trump administration is currently behind on filling hundreds of vacancies in top government positions.
The White House itself has been dealing with a series of resignations, including two staffers who resigned over domestic violence accusations last month and the recent resignations of longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, as well as Gary Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser.
The Washington Post first highlighted the GAO letter this week.
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